Bad Bad Bookclubber

I think I’m a bad bookclub member.

A few things suggest this to me:

  1. I am now in my fourth bookclub.
  2. Other bookclub members cringe at my comments.
  3. I hate just about everything that I read in bookclub.

Generally speaking I have little tolerance for (adult) literary fiction. And for some reason bookclubs tend to rely on literary fiction and especially that which has won a big prize like a Booker or Pulitzer. I won’t go into a long and involved discussion about my reasons for disliking most literary fiction novels so for the sake of avoiding the type of online arguments that I end up in during my bookclub meetings let’s just say it’s personal taste.

So why do I keep going to bookclubs?

  1. I like to hear the way people view books and what they like about them.
  2. I like that I am forced to read things that I otherwise wouldn’t read (even if I dislike them).  Occasionally I find a gem and I almost always learn something that will help my writing even if it is just showing me what I don’t want to do.
  3. I consider it part of my job as a writer. It’s a part that I don’t love but I feel it is an essential part.
  4. There’s always cups of tea and food and nice people and other general discussion involved that makes it worthwhile.

So I keep going. I’m getting something out of it but most of the time I feel that my generally antagonistic view of the books makes me a bad bad bookclubber. My sincerest apologies to all my fellow bookclub members–I’ll make sure you get extra nice cake when it’s time for you to come to my house.

[Note 1: I should qualify that I see the value and importance and cleverness of literary fiction (which is a slippery beast to define at any rate). I am talking here of my preference for writing that I go to for pleasure which mostly dosen’t include literary fiction.

Note 2. I am also referring to what I consider to be ‘hard core’ literary fiction. That is the type of fiction that you know is literary rather than borderline literary/genre.]


One comment on “Bad Bad Bookclubber

  1. Mark says:

    I feel your pain. As a writer I am unable to read … sorry state of affairs, no doubt, but I see so much contrived material or writers who want to be “literary.” THere’s an old axiom – write about what you know. And there’s an old military saying – “keep it simple, stupid.” As a journalist and newspaper editor, that works for me and it works for my writers. Enough awards are on the wall to prove it.

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